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Feature - Going green beyond 2010

Bid Corporation attempting to integrate sustainability into the fabric of the Olympic bid



Being "green" isn’t enough anymore.

In today’s competitive world companies and organizations have to not only look out for the environment they have to help society and be economically responsible.

The new buzz-word to describe this outlook on life is sustainability, and since 1994 it has been one of the pillars of International Olympic Committee.

If countries don’t adopt the concept there is little hope they would ever win the right to host the Games.

The Vancouver-Whistler bid has not only adopted the idea, said Ken Baker, head of the Bid Corporation’s sustainability committee, it has embraced it.

From the worm composter at Vancouver Bid headquarters to ideas on sustainable transport for the Sea to Sky highway, it is part of the fabric of the Bid Corporation.

"We want to blow the socks off the IOC members in terms of the kind of thinking we are applying," said Baker.

"The concept of sustainability is more than just the environment. It includes consideration of the impact on communities, how you are incorporating the effects on different groups in society, what economic opportunities are being created, and how do we maximize these opportunities and spread them out."

It is certainly a challenge.

How is it possible to make a bobsled and luge track sustainable when it needs so much refrigeration and can only be used for one thing?

"The approach we are taking," said Baker, "is to build one making sure it has the least impact on the community and environment and then create an endowment fund to make sure it is not a burden on the community while encouraging its use."

Part of the reason the Callaghan Valley was chosen as the site of the Nordic events was its topography. Ski jumps and some viewing areas will be part of the mountains, following natural contours, rather than large construction projects, thus fitting the framework of sustainability.

Even parking lots, which are being kept to a minimum, are likely to be "grass-paved." Areas will be layered with gravel, sand and grass. This will protect the land while acting as a cleaning filter for any oil, gas, or other toxic chemicals which may come from parked vehicles.

"We want to demonstrate that this facility can lay as lightly as possible on the land while incorporating the best technology and minimizing the natural disturbances," said Baker.

Another example of sustainability may be the athletes village in Whistler. The hope is that it will incorporate the greenest technology in its construction and use, but beyond that it will be a legacy for the community as affordable housing, thus meeting the criteria for social and economic sustainability.

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